There are lots of reasons for direct to consumer marketing. I won’t bore you with statements that I’ve already made and that you can easily reference by looking at my past essays on the subject. Understand that I am speaking from experience as over 90% of my practice comes from non-dentist referrals and from direct to patient marketing.

There are suggestions of tactics that the AAP can take to encourage potential patients to choose our specialty for their periodontal or dental implant services, similar to what the AAO does for orthodontic patients.  Michael Rethman knows marketing and has correctly stated the apples and oranges argument.  He also states correctly the amount of money that we would have to spend to make an impact, money that is well beyond anything that we would spend for a group effort.

I’m concerned whenever the subject of marketing comes up, because it is fraught with emotion instead of studied as an applied science.  “Let’s try this..,” is the first step to the conclusion, “I tried that and it doesn’t work.”   A single tactic is not a marketing strategy.  For those periodontists who have been successful in marketing, they had core fundamentals that allowed that marketing to work.  I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of them. Let me give you some commonalities among them.

  1. They are experts in their field.

  2. They take calculated risks in their business strategies.

  3. They use multiple venues for their marketing.

  4. They concentrate on public relations, elevating themselves in the community by doing good for that community.

  5. They invest in their staffs.

  6. They formally invest in communications training and sales training.

  7. They think in terms of “How can we do that?” rather than “We can’t do that.”

  8. They understand the value of strategic planning and think in long term strategies.

  9. They write articles, books, become guests on local media.

  10. They take on the aura as the doctor to go to.  They acquire that aura through hard work, some sacrifice, and a 24/7 sense of responsibility for their practices.

  11. They smile a lot.

  12. They treat their staff members very well and their staff members live up to their expectations.

  13. They easily jettison staff who can’t meet the standards that they set.

  14. They hire consultants to give them an outside viewpoint.

  15. They read about business from non-dental sources.

  16. They invest in technology that will bring about ease in dental care for their patients and their staffs.

  17. They delegate and inspire their staff members to take total charge of their areas.

  18. They work with office managers who have the same drive, motivation, and ethics that they have.

  19. They accept criticism.

  20. They strive to make their comments positive and constructive.

  21. They have a lot of fun at work.

Every one of us has strengths in the above.  Every one of us has weaknesses.  The first strategy is to make those strengths even stronger because when we do that, the weaknesses tend to right themselves as well.

We are in the midst of a great change in our profession.  We are already the experts. We were the smartest kids in our class.  We were the ones who studied the hardest. We are the ones who make sense out of what seems to be a mystery for others.  If we just take those attributes that we already possess and strengthen them, then success in the direct to patient strategy is better assured.  Because those patients are looking for you.

Lee N. Sheldon DMD